A designer needs to consider many things prior to editing a course such as converting a traditional classroom course towards a blended one. Pre-planning strategies, (Simonson, et al., 2012), include evaluating all technologies implemented in the syllabus, any new developments within the learning structure, and how the learners contribute or collaborate with each other. Once the designer settles these strategies and defines all the facets of the learning course, they can then improve the layout of the entire learning design. This allows the designer to identify each phase within the compounds of the distance learning that will or won’t do better as that distance learning format.
The instructor also needs to identify their role as a trainer and how they will adapt from a traditional classroom environment to a newly blended course, and how each of the learners can communicate with this new eLearning tool.
a. Evaluate the new course material in order to meet the course objectives.(Simonson, et. al., 2012). A big mistake in this process might be to get lost in the appearance of the course content in making it look so sophisticated, that they lose track of what the initial format was. It’s important for the instructor to keep focus on their goals and objectives as a form of checks and balances during the planning process.
b. Identify with their learners (Simonson, et al., 2012), and skill evaluate the learners skills as they go through their learning process. By addressing if the blended learning benefits the learner’s, the designer analyzes the learners abilities of understanding the learning concepts, and the interactivity of the class as a whole. In this process, the learning styles will be addressed. (Dede, (2005).
c. Teaching strategies should be considered due to feedback from facilitators and students because the learning atmosphere will persuade those teaching strategies, which would include resources and technology.
Improving Distance Learning Course
Both synchronous and asynchronous communication are enhanced by the distance learning environment. (Simonson, et. al., 2012). The discussion sequence and student collaboration is one format that can be enhanced the most in a blended course format. When students are in one room at the same , discussing and forming opinions, it’s a much easier process because there is plenty of time. In an online course, the continuation of collaborating and exchanging ideas can be time consuming when not everyone is available at the same time.
A facilitator or Instructor is someone who has been selected and employed to lead the students regardless if it is in a traditional setting or online environment. (Simonson, et. al. 2012). The role of the Instructor then switches to a role of trainer in a blended course format. Some questions to consider in drawing up conclusions as a trainer in an online format would be:
1. What are his capabilities for coordinating the course?
2. What will his new role in the class be since it is blended and not completely in a traditional classroom?
2. Will other facilitators collaborate with this trainer or help them in their transition with thisnew learning process?
An Instructor provides examples of the expectations in a discussion post, (Simonson et. Al., 2012), with rules for ‘netiquette’ and what is expected of each student. Discussions are great in the communication process and should encourage students to collaborate in extensive conversations and formal disputes that the instructor can direct and control. (Belderrain, 2006). By controlling the online conversations, the instructor can reflect on meaningful conversations with the intended outcomes of good debates.
In the end, once an instructor implements the transition from traditional to blended course format, they can then reflect on their role as a trainer, since their role is looked at more as a trainer and the students are adapted to learn as independent rather than in a brick and mortar setting.
Two things for the instructor to focus on are the pre-planning strategies including course evaluation of the course objectives and the learning environment, or demographics of the learner. When these pre-planning strategies are implemented, the instructor can them determine the aspects of the course that need improvement from student performance and feedback.
Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2), 139–153.
Dede, C. (2005). Planning for neomillennial learning styles. Educause Quarterly, 28(1),7–12.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.